History Academic News

Edward J.K. Gitre, an assistant professor in the Department of History, received a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Implementation Grant for his digital humanities project titled “The American Soldier in World War II.”

The project creates an online collection of more than 65,000 handwritten survey responses containing the personal comments of American soldiers in World War II; it seeks to transcribe the narrative responses and reunite them with quantitative data from the respondents, adding contextual information to facilitate access by multiple user groups. The project builds on work begun by Gitre and his team with an NEH startup grant.

The NEH Implementation Grant, a total of $350,000, provides two years of funding.

The following College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences students accepted the invitation to become members of Phi Beta Kappa during the 2018-2019 academic year: Micaela Albright, criminology and sociology; Katherine Avdellas, public relations; Rachel Beisser, literature and language and professional and technical writingJessica Brady, international relations; Madeleine Cáceres, political science; Mary Anne Callahan, literature and language; Hannah Casey, international studies and SpanishRachel Dougherty, Spanish and psychology; Victoria Driggs, music and Spanish; Courtney Ebersohl, French and history; Neeka Eghbali, public relations; Elizabeth Finnan, French and environmental policy and planning; Emily Friedman, political science; Hannah Goode, professional and technical writing; Samantha Hart, communication studies and political science; Paige Hartian, professional and technical writing and economics; Catherine Hayes, Spanish and biochemistry; Logan Hughes, political science; Austin Huppert, political science; Rachel Iwicki, Russian and mechanical engineering; Dana Kelly, literature and language; Maeghan Klinker, creative writing and literature and language; Kathryn Kowalski, literature and language and professional and technical writing; Matthew Krusiec, history; Lisa Lane, international relations; Eleanor Matheson, criminology and sociology; Bonnie McGowan, human development; Victoria McMahon, political science; Kelsey McQueen, Spanish and food science and technology; Timothy Miles, religion and culture; Michael Mills, music; Benjamin Nicoll, philosophy and business information technology; Caroline Nicotra, Spanish and biological sciences; Hayley Oliver, literature and language; Haley Olsen, criminology; Taylor Perdue, multimedia journalism; Samantha Piszcz, political science; Kathryn Rappold, public relations; Caroline Ritchey, French, history, and national security and foreign affairs; Jayne Ross, creative writing and professional and technical writing; Johanna Scalzi, communication studies; Sahara Shrestha, philosophy and environmental policy and planning; Elizabeth Street, multimedia journalism; Emily Sutphin, classics and religion and culture; Luca Thoms, national security and foreign affairs; Victoria Upton, public relations; Hans Werner, criminology and sociology; Logan White, political science; Morgan Wood, human development; and Taylor Zelman, criminology and political science.

E. Thomas Ewing, a professor in the Department of History and associate dean for Graduates Studies and Research, published “La Grippe or Russian Influenza. Mortality Statistics during the 1890 Epidemic in Indiana,” Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses 13.3 (May 2019): 279–87.


A. Roger Ekirch was appointed University Distinguished Professor in the Department of History by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

The author of five prizewinning books, Ekirch previously received numerous awards and honors, including four National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships and a Guggenheim Fellowship; he also served as the first Paul Mellon Fellow at Cambridge University. In “Sleep We Have Lost” in the American Historical Review(2001), for which he earned the Clifford Prize from the American Society for 18th Century Studies, and in his book, At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past (W.W. Norton, 2006), Ekirch presented his influential discovery that the dominant pattern of Western sleep prior to the Industrial Revolution was not the consolidated sleep we aspire to today, but rather was segmented: a “first sleep” and a “second sleep” bridged by an interval of an hour or so of wakefulness. His research has offered insights into today’s sleep disorders and since 2005 has been profiled in 79 international newspapers and magazines and referenced in an additional 300. The most recent of Ekirch’s five books, American Sanctuary: Mutiny, Martyrdom, and National Identity in the Age of Revolution (Pantheon, 2017) was recognized as a Main Selection of the History Book Club and a Book of the Week designation from Publisher’s Weekly.

Ekirch joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 1977; he earned his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and his master’s and doctoral degrees from Johns Hopkins University. The University Distinguished Professorship is Virginia Tech’s preeminent faculty rank bestowed upon members of the university faculty whose scholarly attainments have attracted national and/or international recognition. The rank is carried by incumbents until resignation or retirement from the university, subject to the normal standard of continuous high performance.

The following College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences faculty members were awarded a Niles Research Grant during the 2018–2019 academic year: Mark V. Barrow, Jr., History; Shannon Elizabeth Bell, Sociology; Dwight Bigler, School of Performing Arts; Brian Britt, Religion and Culture; Toni M. Calasanti, Sociology; María del Carmen Caña Jiménez, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures; Mauro Caraccioli, Political Science and ASPECT Core Faculty; Koeun Choi, Human Development and Family Science; Katharine Cleland, English; Amanda C. Demmer, History; Katherine Haenschen and Daniel J. Tamul, Communication; Sharon P. Johnson, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures; Karin Kitchens, Political Science; Bryan Klausmeyer, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures; Allan Lumba, History; Richard Masters, School of Performing Arts; Deborah Milly, Political Science; Gonzalo Montero, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures; Carol A. Mullen, School of Education; Charles Nichols, School of Performing Arts; Corinne Noirot, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures; Philip Olson, Science, Technology, and Society; Michael Saffle, Religion and Culture; Carolyn Shivers, Human Development and Family Science; Brandi Watkins, Communication; Chelsea Woods, Communication; and Tingting Zhao, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures.

The 2019 College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Awards and Honors Ceremony and Reception took place on April 2 in Owens Banquet Hall. Presenting this year’s awards were Dean Rosemary Blieszner, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research E. Thomas Ewing, and Joseph Pitt, Philosophy and chair of the college’s Honors and Awards Committee.

Certificate of Teaching Excellence recipients were: Nancy López-Romero, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures; Paul Quigley, History; Robert P. Stephens, History; Vinodh Venkatesh, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures; and Abby Walker, English.

Excellence in Advising Awards were presented to Nancy Bodenhorn, School of Education, and Sarah Sierra, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures.

Excellence in Research and Creative Scholarship Award recipients were: Aarnes Gudmestad, Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures; Brett Jones, School of Education; and Brian ThorsettSchool of Performing Arts. Recognized as Land Grant Scholars were Barbara Allen, Science, Technology, and Society, and Katrina M. Powell, English.

Those presented with an Excellence in Outreach and International Initiatives Award were Yasuko KumazawaModern and Classical Languages and Literatures, and Paul Quigley, History.

The Diversity Award winners were Carmen Gitre, History, and Annie Stevens, School of Performing Arts.

Heather Gumbert, associate chair, History, garnered the Excellence in Administration Award.

This year’s ceremony included a staff award in addition to faculty awards. Katie Akers, fiscal technician Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, received the Staff Employee of the Year Award.

The featured speakers at this year’s ceremony were Kumazawa, Sierra, Thorsett, and Walker.

The Department of History held its annual Undergraduate Research Showcase and Spring Tea on April 12. The award-winning undergraduate History majors recognized at this event were: Courtney Ebersohl, who received the James W. and Martha N. Banks Award and was also the recipient of the Curtis Prize for her thesis titled “Hostility, Paternalism, and Resistance: Visions of Freedom in Post-Civil War Fairfax County (1865–1872),” with Daniel B. Thorp as mentor; the HIST 1004 First Year Experience class, which received the Digital History Prize for its project, “African-American Fourth of July,” led by Brett L. Shadle; Emma Rhodes, recipient of the History Prize for “Channeling Children: How Television Changed the Way Cereal Companies Advertised to Young Americans in the 1950 and 1960s,” written for a research seminar taught by Mark Barrow; and Olivia Wisnewski, who received the Patricia Ann Gallagher Scholarship for 2019-2020.

The unveiling of the eighth volume of the Virginia Tech Undergraduate Historical Review took place at the Department of History Annual Undergraduate Research Showcase and Spring Tea on April 12. History master’s students Heath Furrow and Tyler Balli served as managing editors, and faculty member Heather Gumbert was the faculty editor.

The following History majors at Virginia Tech published their research in this volume: Brooks Hayden Romedy, “Folksong Collection Practices and the Development of an Anglo-Saxon America”; Courtney Ebersohl, “‘She Would Not Go Anyhow’: Freed Women in Post-Civil War Fairfax County, 1865–1872”; and Gillian Barth, “The Wrath of Kern County: Banning The Grapes of Wrathin the Summer of 1939.”

In addition, Nala Chehade wrote “Reflections on Digital History: Graffiti of the Egyptian Revolution in Cairo,” and Laura Crowe penned “Undergraduate Publishing at Virginia Tech: Welcome to the Beatles.”